Care home residents in England can receive indoor visits from more loved ones and leave the home for more trips in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The number of designated visitors has increased from two to five per resident, and residents can leave the home for a greater variety of activities without needing to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.
The changes come into effect as the country enters the third stage of its road map for easing coronavirus restrictions.
Residents can have up to five named visitors, with a maximum of two at any one time, not including very young children or essential care givers.
They can also visit hospitals as outpatients, GPs, dentists and day centres as well as workplaces and educational settings without needing to self-isolate after.
Following any overnight stay, including an overnight hospital visit, residents are still required to isolate for 14 days.
They are advised to take a Covid test before leaving the facility.
Adults who become a resident of a care home will also need to isolate from other residents for 14 days.
In all cases, if a resident has a designated essential caregiver, this person should be able to visit during the isolation period.
In addition, care homes where there has been an outbreak only need to close to visitors for 14 days rather than 28, as was previously the case.
An outbreak will be declared over 14 days after the last positive case and once all residents and staff have tested negative, assuming there are no variants of concern.
Updated Government guidance will be kept under review with a view to removing further restrictions as soon as possible, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
When the changes were announced last week, minister for care Helen Whately said they were possible thanks to the “phenomenal success of the vaccine rollout and a reduction in cases across the country”.
She added: “As we turn the tide on this cruel virus I want to make visiting as normal as possible by the summer, and this is an important step on that path.”